Archive: Issue No. 119, July 2007

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.
EDITIONS FOR ARTTHROB EDITIONS FOR ARTTHROB    |    5 Years of Artthrob    |    About    |    Contact    |    Archive    |    Subscribe    |    SEARCH   

Dan Halter
Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of the Rave)

Dan Halter

Dan Halter with �Exchange�
Pool table installation

Dan Halter

Exchange 2005
Interactive piece with a pool table
black and white ball, cue sticks
10 000 Zimbabwean 20c coins

Dan Halter

Black and white 2005
Printed list of the names of farms
seized by the Zimbabwean government
76.5 x 88.5 cm
Edition of 10

Dan Halter
Farm Names

Dan Halter

My Last Resort 2006 Land Classification map
of Zimbabwe woven with Rhodesian database
black thread
82 x 91 cm

Dan Halter

More Fire (detail) 2006
Land Classification map
of Zimbabwe woven with Rhodesian database
black thread
82 x 91 cm

Dan Halter

Yes Boss (detail) 2006
Farming Region map of Zimbabwe
woven with shredded $5 000
Zimbabwean bank notes, gold thread
82 x 89 cm

Dan Halter

Stone Tablets / Bitter Pills 2005
Various stone including soapstone
black springstone and cobalt
approx 13 x 13 x 7 cm each

Dan Halter

Take me to your leader
catalogue cover

Dan Halter

Font for a revolution / Zimbabwe 2006
Match sticks and match boxes
pasted onto a board with an Imbuia veneer
113.3 x 88.5 cm

Dan Halter

Monochrome Till Receipt (White) 2005 Print of till receipt
58.4 x 7.54 cm each
Edition of 10 Untitled (zimbabwean queen of rave) 2005
Video Duration: 3�33

Dan Halter

Safe as fuck 2007
(work in progress)
AIDS ribbon, map pins, black foamcore
81 x 100,5 cm

by Sue Williamson (July, 2007)

Since graduating from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2001, Zimbabwean born and schooled artist Dan Halter has taken as his major theme and the focus of his mixed media work the descent into near anarchy of the once stable country of his birth.


Deconstructing various aspects of the economic meltdown which followed the chasing of white farmers off their land and the steady erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe, Halter has drawn on local craft processes to make a body of darkly humorous and conceptually cutting work.

Key pieces are maps of Zimbabwe (once the British colony of Southern Rhodesia) which Halter has incised into narrow vertical strips, weaving in horizontal ribbons of information from another source, thus rupturing and texturing the once smooth surface and making the previous place names and topographical data all but unreadable. At the same time, a new layer of pertinent, if partially hidden, information has been added.

Thus, More Fire 2006. A map which in a previous governmental life showed land classification, has now been interwoven by Halter with names from A-K of the Rhodesian database ( Across the altered surface of the country, in black thread, a cautionary African proverb has been stitched: MANY MILLET GRAINS DO NOT MAKE PORRIDGE. Lack of farming skills and infrastructure has meant the farms given up by white farmers no longer provide the abundant crops which fed not only Zimbabwe but neighbouring countries as well. Half the population is close to starving.

Another popular Zimbabwean export which went around the world were stone sculptures, the product of cultural collectives. Halter's Stone Tablets/Bitter Pills are hand carved from cobalt, black springstone or soapstone drawn from different parts of the country. Symbols such as the dollar sign cut into the upper surfaces reference the Ecstasy tablets of the rave culture once popular with the youth of Zimbabwe. The scale is different, though. These pills are landmine sized.


'I don't have a particular moral stance, or any over-riding beliefs. I am interested in people, in humanity as a whole. I am not religious. I am an observer of the world and the things I make offer a social commentary in a somewhat ambiguous way. Coming from Zimbabwe, I am no stranger to the corrupting effects of power and the irony that so few people or just one person can have a hold over or affect so many.

'In my art, materials are very important, and the materials I choose resonate for me as part of a culture..

I also like to play with methods of production, preferring to appropriate styles and play down my "artist's hand" in the creative process. I have taken typically Zimbabwean modes of art production, which in the case of Zimbabwe often tends towards the curio. I play with local sayings and expressions and also with meanings. Hopefully, the end products are potent combinations that are often open for interpretation'.


Halter's video Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of the Rave) has been chosen as one of two South African entries for Videobrasil 16, to take place in São Paulo later this year.

Writes Kathryn Smith in a catalogue essay on this work:

Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave) provides a strong orientation from which to access (Halter's) collection of works. The opening refrains of Everybody's Free (to feel good)', that anthem of early 90s dance music, are unmistakable. The driving beat and club diva Rozalla's assurance that 'brother and sister, together we'll make it through' are insistently buoyant, yet somewhat at odds with the accompanying visuals. White kids, the protagonists of 90s rave culture, dance on flatbed trucks and in open spaces, worshipping the gods of deep bass emanating from giant speaker stacks.

Cut to images of mass protest and uprising, multitudes of people toyi-toying in the streets ... The heaving bodies pound the ground and raise their arms with similar resolve. Stripped of their ideological disparities, both scenarios speak of a desire for an alternative reality. Both harness the psychology of crowds to shift individual sensibilities to mass consciousness. The song's chorus seems to suggest a political imperative camouflaged in an otherwise bubblegummy dance track.'


Halter's mesmerizing Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave) video was also shown in Berlin earlier this year, on 'Zeitgenössiche Fotokunst aus Südafrika', at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK), on a show curated by South African National Gallery new media curator, Pam Warne.


Halter had his first solo show at the João Ferreira Gallery in Cape Town last year, for which the catalogue was a small, green, passport sized booklet with TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER in gold on the cover.

Two of the most shocking works looked reasonably innocuous. One was a pool table situated over a heap of silver coins - 10 000 Zimbabwean twenty cent pieces. Once, one could play a game of pool in a bar for a single coin, a game which in South Africa costs R2 to play. Now, all 10 000 of those coins would be needed to equal R2 - or the cost of one game.

Visiting home in 2005, Halter persuaded a local supermarket to let him commandeer a till, and ring up a basket of white, and black items - like white beans, black hair dye - 26 items in all. The total cost was far beyond Halter's means - $1,600,707,409.73. Well over a billion Zimbabwe dollars. 'Thank you for shopping with us' concludes the till slip.

The scanned till slips were prints on the show.


Halter is the choice of Cape Times art critic Melvyn Minnaar at a Critic's Choice exhibition at the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town in July. Halter has stopped making his map pieces now, and new work references the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe - a red AIDS ribbon spells out the slang phrase safe as fuck Halter is also working with women who are HIV positive to make a beadwork piece spelling out the words 'Henry IV' - a euphemistic expression for AIDS.


The Swiss cultural agency Pro Helvetia has invited Halter to undertake a two month artist's residency in Zürich in 2008.


1977 Born in Harare, Zimbabwe

Lives and works in Cape Town


2001 BA (FA) in painting. Painting prize. Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town

1997 One year foundation course at the Schule für Gestaltung,
Zürich, Switzerland


2006 'Take Me To Your Leader', Jo&tildea;o Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town


2007 'Zeitgenössiche Fotokunst aus Südafrika', Neuer Berliner
Kunstverein (NBK), Berlin, Germany

2006 'Second to None', South African National Gallery, Cape Town
'The Cape Town Biennale', Blank Projects, Cape Town
'The Last Braai 666', in collaboration with Christian Nerf and
Ed Young. L/B's Lounge. Cape Town
Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, Australia
14th Annual Art Salon at The Bay, Bay Hotel, Cape Town

2005 'Black and White Poster Project', Dirt Contemporary Art Space,
Cape Town

2004 'Contra Mundi', Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
'Exchange Views on.../ Echange vues sur...,' Espace Croix-Baragnon,
France and Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town

2003 'Picnic', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town
'Meeting: Art in the Water Closet'. Gallerie Puta. Cape Town

2001 'YDETAG', South African National Gallery, Cape Town
'Emergency', Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town


South African National Gallery and UNISA (University of South Africa)



Sanell Aggenbach
(Sept 2005)

Alan Alborough
(July 2000)

Jane Alexander
(July 1999)

Siemon Allen
(June 2001)

Bridget Baker
(March 2006)

Emma Bedford
(March 2007)

Willie Bester
(Aug 1999)

Ralph Borland
(Jan 2006)

Willem Boshoff
(Aug 2001)

Conrad Botes
(Dec 2001)

Andries Botha
(April 2000)

Wim Botha
(April 2003)

Kevin Brand
(June 1998)

Candice Breitz
(Oct 1998)

Lisa Brice
(Jan 1999)

Jean Brundrit
(March 2004)

Angela Buckland
(Mar 2003)

Pitso Chinzima
(Oct 2001)

Marco Cianfanelli
(Aug 2002)

Julia Rosa Clark
(July 2005)

Peter Clarke
(Sept 2003)

Steven Cohen
(May 1998)

Keith Deitrich
(July 2004)

Paul Edmunds
(Feb 2004)

Leora Farber
(May 2002)

Bronwen Findlay
(April 2002)

Bronwen Findlay
(Sept 2006)

Tracy Lindner Gander
(April 2004)

Kendell Geers
(June 2002)

Linda Givon
(Dec 1999)

David Goldblatt
(Dec 2002)

Thembinkosi Goniwe
(Oct 2002)

Frances Goodman
(Aug 2006)

Brad Hammond
(Jan 2001)

Randolph Hartzenberg
(Aug 1998)

Kay Hassan
(Oct 2000)

Matthew Hindley
(Sept 2004)

Nicholas Hlobo
(June 2006)

Stephen Hobbs
(Dec 1998)

Robert Hodgins
(June 2000)

Pieter Hugo
(April 2006)

William Kentridge
(May 1999)

Isaac Khanyile
(Nov 2001)

David Koloane
(July 2003)

Dorothee Kreutzfeld
(Jan 2000)

Terry Kurgan
(Aug 2000)

Moshekwa Langa
(Feb 1999)

Chris Ledochowski
(June 2003)

Kim Lieberman
(May 2003)

Mandla Mabila
(Aug 2001)

Churchill Madikida
(May 2004)

Veronique Malherbe
(June 1999)

Mustafa Maluka
(July 1998)

Thando Mama
(June 2004)

Senzeni Marasela
(Feb 2000)

Colbert Mashile
(May 2006)

Brent Meistre
(May 2005)

Santu Mofokeng
(July 2002)

Zwelethu Mthethwa
(April 1999)

Samson Mudzunga
(Oct 2004)

Zanele Muholi
(Dec 2006)

Thomas Mulcaire
(April 2001)

Brett Murray
(Sept 1998)

Hylton Nel
(Feb 2002)

Karel Nel
(Oct 1999)

Sam Nhlengethwa
(Oct 2003)

Walter Oltmann
(July 2001)

Jay Pather
(Dec 2004)

Malcolm Payne
(Nov 2002)

Tracy Payne
(March 1998)

Peet Pienaar
(Dec 2000)

Jo Ractliffe
(Mar 1999)

Robin Rhode
(Nov 1999)

Colin Richards
(Aug 2003)

Tracey Rose
(March 2001)

Ruth Sacks
(Oct 2006)

Claudette Schreuders
(Sept 2000)

Berni Searle
(May 2000)

Berni Searle
(Jan 2003)

Usha Seejarim
(May 2001)

Penny Siopis
(Sept 1999)

Cecil Skotnes
(July 2006)

Kathryn Smith
(Dec 2003)

Dave Southwood
(March 2002)

Doreen Southwood
(Sept 2002)

Nathaniel Stern
(Feb 20006)

Greg Streak
(Feb 2001)

Guy Tillim
(Jan 2005)

Clive van den Berg
(Nov 1998)

Hentie van der Merwe
(Mar 2000)

Strijdom van der Merwe
(Jan 2002)

Storm Janse van Rensburg
(June 2005)

Minnette Vári
(Feb 1998)

Nontsikelelo 'Lolo' Veleko
(Feb 2007)

Andrew Verster
(May 2007)

Diane Victor
(Feb 2003)

Vuyile Voyiya
(Aug 2005)

Jeremy Wafer
(Nov 2000)

James Webb
(Aug 2004)

Sue Williamson
(Nov 2003)

Ed Young
(Nov 2005)

Billie Zangewa
(June 2007)

Mlu Zondi
(Nov 2006)